Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 7
The US military may or may not side with India in hostilities with China, but the American dream is turning sour for Indian students, weeks after US President Donald Trump clamped down on different non-immigration visas including the H-1B, much coveted by young Indian professionals.
International students in the US are panicking after a shock announcement by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Monday afternoon that slams the door shut on students with F-1 and M-1 visas if their universities move to online-only instruction during the Fall 2020 semester which begins early September, immediately after Labour Day weekend.
The US government has declared that overseas students at colleges that will be fully online cannot remain in the US or they must transfer to another institution in order to maintain their student-visa status. The move is part of extensive changes being rung across the entire US immigration system.
However, immigration experts are asking parents and students not to panic because the US Government’s guidelines are certain to be challenged in court. “I wouldn't encourage anyone to book a flight home this exact moment. Lawsuits are inevitable,” said US immigration lawyer Aaron Reichlin-Melnick.
“Only students enrolled at a school that is only offering online coursework can engage in remote learning from their home country,” said the US Government guidance. But it lifts the bar on international students taking more than one online course.
This will hit foreign students from countries where internet connection is bad or the classes are held at dead of the night local time. Besides much of the online-only curricula may not be available in the home country and tech students will lose valuable in-lab experience.
The US provides a loophole that advises students to take alternative steps such as a reduced course load (RCL) or appropriate medical leave. But RCL is valid only for academic difficulties and medical conditions.
Colleges will have to certify that students are not taking an entirely online course-load or that their academic programme is not wholly online.
This will hit existing students hard because surveys show 90 per cent of overseas students had stayed back in the US and they will have to return if colleges operate online this fall.
Universities like Harvard wouldn't lose tuition from students forced to leave the US as they can attend the classes virtually from their home country.
Some colleges can adopt some form of hybrid system of actual and online classes but it will be up to the immigration authorities to clear such plans.
India-US discuss curbs
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale reviewed the entire gamut of Indo-US engagements including political, economic, commercial, regional and international cooperation under the rubric of Indo-UA foreign consultations on Tuesday.
They discussed the sticking point of US visa curbs, especially for students and professionals and also reaffirmed their commitment to work towards ensuring a free, open, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
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